Recently, there have been several high-profile network neutrality situations*, which many argue are real-life examples of the kinds of restrictions that could exist if net neutrality is not protected. The FCC responded to these complaints by issuing three petitions on these actions and the issue of net neutrality in general. ALA responded to this petition with a set of comments (PDF). Although ALA did not comment on the specific actions of these service providers in our response, we did reiterate the position we put forth in June in our comments in the Matter of Broadband Industry Practices (PDF).
The concept of network neutrality — that of ensuring an Internet free of restrictions on content, hardware, or services — first gained traction in the press two years ago. Initially, the net neutrality debate was mostly academic in nature, since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations that were lifted around that time had always prevented the type of restrictions that advocates of net neutrality fear most. Many opponents of net neutrality scoffed at the idea of neutrality protection ever being necessary.
At the core of the net neutrality debate is freedom of information, a foundational library principle, and because of this ALA has become a leader in the fight to ensure network neutrality in arenas as varied as Congress, the FCC, and a surprising array of coalitions. ALA’s position on net neutrality is based on two key points:
- that free access to information is a fundamental right, and
- that as content providers, libraries have an interest in protecting themselves from unfair and uncompetitive business practices.
* http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21376597, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/27/us/27verizon.html